Kazuyo Hashimoto is a relative newcomer to flameworking, but she has been an artist in glass for many years. Her history includes 18 years as a designer for a utilitarian glass company and ten years as a prominent artist in laminated optical glass. This rich background in design has added an important dimension to her skills as a flameworker.
Kazuyo graduated from Kyoto City University of Fine Art in 1963 and went to work for Kamei Glass Company, where she designed fine tableware. After two years, she married and stopped working. In 1973, she went to work for Daiwa Glass Company as a free designer. She worked there for the next 16 years. In 1982, she began making glass sculpture using optical glass, a medium she would explore for the next ten years. These laminated glass pieces were made with the assistance of a highly skilled artisan who did all of the grinding and polishing. They were featured in many group exhibitions including the Kyoto City Collection Exhibition at the Kyoto City Museum in 1984, the International Exhibition of Glass Crafts in 1986 and 1988, Glass í87 in Japan, and Glass í90 in Japan. She also had solo exhibitions at the Gallery Maronie in Kyoto and the Nomura Art Shop in Osaka, and she received an award of excellence at the Japan EMBA Art Contest in 1986. In 1992, the artist that had been grinding and polishing her sculptures suddenly died. Kazuyo began to look for another medium that would allow her to continue her work.
"When I saw lampwork with Pyrex for the first time, I was surprised at what a beautiful, clear glass it was and what cheerful work lampworking was." Kazuyo took workshops with Paul Trautman and Alex Arbel, who were visiting Japan at the time at the invitation of Mike Yamashita of Ropex International. But when she could not find anyone in Japan who taught flameworking, Kazuyo decided to go to Pilchuck. In 1994, she took Robert Mickelsenís class and, in 1995, she took Susan Plumís class. But, it was in 1996 that Kazuyo took a class from Polish flameworker Anna Skibska and discovered the method that she had been looking for.
And so, after a four-year hiatus, Kazuyo has returned to prominence in Japanís premier glass exhibitions, this time with her new medium, flameworking. She was selected to participate in Glass í96 in Japan and was selected for the í97 Kyoto Art and Craft Exhibition. She is clearly on the way to making a name for herself as an artist using flameworking as her preferred medium. "I love glass very much, but if these pieces were not glass, I would still think their shape is beautiful. In both my early work and my recent work, I have been looking for the same vision and hope. My view of my work has been and always will be constant."